Scotland’s national tournament is on its way to the North East - and it’s shaping up to be an occasion to remember
THE SCOTTISH OPEN has a new home for 2014 as Royal Aberdeen gets set to host one of the European Tour’s biggest events this July.
Royal Aberdeen will be the seventh course in history to host the Scottish Open and it will be the first time the course has ever hosted a European Tour event, although it has staged the Senior Open and Walker Cup in the past.
A host of the game’s major names have already committed to the tournament and fans have plenty to look forward to as the pros prepare for the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool the following week.
Reigning champion Phil Mickelson will be returning to Scotland to play in the event that gave him the perfect springboard to go on and be crowned Open champion at Muirfield last year.
The five-time major champion is looking forward to defending his title over the fearsome Balgownie Links and he said: “Winning the Scottish Open was a huge factor in my success the next week at the Open Championship.
“I was able to acclimate myself to the time change, the weather, the wind, the links conditions and all in the heat of serious competition, which itself is a big plus.
“That helped sharpen my focus on hitting the proper shots and coming to grips with the results, good or bad. On top of that, winning gave me tremendous confidence going into the Open and confirmed my beliefs about what I could do.”
Inverness-born PGA Tour player Russell Knox will also be there and is looking forward to teeing off in front of a home crowd for the first time as a professional at Royal Aberdeen.
The 28-year-old has been given an invite to play in the event and says it will be definitely be the best week of the season for him.
“Playing in the Scottish Open will be the highlight of my year,” said Knox, who turned professional in 2007. “I would’ve loved to have played at Castle Stuart, given my Inverness roots, but unfortunately I was unable to as I was trying to keep my card in America, so it will be great to finally get the chance to play on home soil.”
Others preparing to head to Scotland include Rickie Fowler, who will be making his debut in the competition, while 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sir Nick Faldo will also all join the brightly-attired American in the North East.
Rory McIlroy will be there, too, when the
European Tour circus rolls into town, and he says
he is aiming to follow the example set by Phil Mickelson last year.
He last played in the event at Loch Lomond in 2009, and said: “I believe it’s a great links with lots of golfing history. I’m really looking forward to it.
“The field is going to be very strong. I can think of no better preparation for The Open, especially on a respected course like Royal Aberdeen. There will be so many similarities I can bring to the following week’s Open Championship.”
It’s shaping up to be a fantastic week at Royal Aberdeen for players and spectators alike. At the time of writing, 24 of the world’s top 60 players have signed up to take part, with more expected to join before entries close. A different prospect to Castle Stuart, it promises to be one to remember.